retsuko: (Default)
2014 has been a good year for pop culture activities, even without SDCC tickets. I've been lucky enough to see about half of the movies that I wanted to; I've read 53 books (it would be 54, but I abandoned one because of sheer boredom/desperation); and I've had wonderful times speaking to many fun, knowledgeable, and interesting people about shared fandoms and pop culture interests. I hope 2015 brings more of the same, especially since there is Star Wars to look forward to, and Avengers, and Agent Carter and all my returning favorites and, really, far too many upcoming titles to entirely list in one entry.

I do have a bunch of projects that I want to bring to fruition in 2015, some of them big, and some fairly small and relaxed. In no particular order:

1) A Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell reread, to get ready for the BBC adaptation. My target date for this is January/February, just so I'm not attempting to finish such a long book too close to the release date. I'll blog about this in chunks as I go through it, and if there's anyone who wants to join in, I can get more specific about these chunks and when I plan to have them done. :)

2) Yebisu and I are planning, thanks to Netflix, to do a Star Trek: The Next Generation re-watch, probably two episodes a week. I'm hoping that the two episodes a week format will help balance out some of the truly regrettably bad episodes that I remember from the first few seasons by contrasting bad with good, or at least passable. I'll blog about this, too.

3) Photography of the action figures in SOME format; I just haven't settled on what yet.

4) A far more cryptic pair of projects, one of which hinges on acquiring new skills, and the other of which depends on time. I'm remaining cryptic in hopes of actually accomplishing both and/or confusing my older self when I review these entries years from now.
retsuko: (fierce!)
Recently, while I was visiting my sister, I finished watching the first season of "The Carrie Diaries" on my AirBnB's host's Netflix account and griped to my sister about it next morning. I went into a few reasons why I was dissatisfied with the show and after a minute, my sister spoke up. "Why," she asked, "Would you waste your time on something you hate so much?" I backpedaled a bit, and tried to explain what had drawn me to the show in the first place (the awesome of Freema Agyeman--much minimized, alas; 80s clothing; somewhat interesting character arcs for a few of the minor characters), but it was clear that my sister thought I was 100% crazy, and that she'd never heard of hate!watching anything at all.

Generally, I don't hate!watch shows much. America's Next Top Model, for example, is fun with a glass of wine and MST3K-style snarkery, but it's usually the same thing from episode to episode, and I move on. The problem occurs when a show that I like veers from 'genuine pleasure' to 'guilty pleasure' category, and then into hate!watch territory. Once Upon a Time went from "oh, wow, this show is so much fun, I need to watch every episode obsessively" to "OK, this is getting little over the top, but still fun" and, finally, "who are all these people and why should I care about them?" I guess if that's the case, a long, slow demise, then I don't feel so bad about hate!watching a few episodes in the hopes that the whole endeavor will slide back onto the quality side of the equation.

More problematic, though, is the show that goes from "genuine pleasure" to hate!watching at alarming speed. This is where I am with SyFy's Defiance. There are a lot of reasons I want to like it: there's a dynamite ensemble cast who have a lot of chemistry together; the setting is interesting and the world-building, although muddled, compelling; and the themes of the show and the individual storylines within it are mostly interesting. Add to this a lot of diverse roles for female characters and slightly dystopian sci-fi feel to the whole thing, and bam, it should rock, right?

Well... not as much as I'd like.

For one thing, not since Lost have I had so many questions about the larger meta-plot of the story that are going largely unanswered. The frustrating thing about this is that many of these could be answered with a few lines of dialogue. I don't need an exposition dump; I just want to know a few things that would help me understand the characters and their motivations better. For instance, the show is set in the near-future, after an alien invasion/colonization effort went bad. Why is there no anti-alien sentiment? Where's the "Aliens go home" graffiti that I'm sure would adorn many, many buildings in this setting? Further, the Earth Republic (a kind of grumpier UN, at least as far as I can make out) seems to have no greater goals than messing with our heroes/heroines' plans. Wouldn't they have some bigger idea? Why do we never hear about them trying to do good things, like starting up manufacture of medicine and infrastructure?

Equally frustrating is this show's depiction of women. On one hand, there are a number of interesting, diverse roles for female characters. Jaime Murray is excellent as Stahma, an alien woman dealing with newfound power and the cost to hold onto it. There's also Doc Ewell, whose dry sarcasm is perfectly timed and in sharp contrast to the earnestness of those around her. Julie Benz plays Amanda, the town's (now ex-) mayor, with a lot of poise, except when she's being menaced by memories of her rape at the hands on an unknown assailant when she was younger. This sexual assault is on its way to becoming a major plot point, and, really, all the women on this show have been shown sexually threatened, assaulted, or wounded at some point, whereas the men (with one notable exception) have not. It's gotten so frustrating that I'm beginning to wish there was a pact that authors/writers/showrunners (for this show and all others) could sign agreeing not to use rape or sexual assault as a plot device. I don't care that it "develops" the character further (because there are other, more effective and less rape-y ways to do this just as effectively), or that it's "realistic" (because sci-fi and fantasy are chances to do something that isn't necessarily realistic.) It's not even very original. I would like to watch one episode of Defiance that doesn't show one of its female characters wounded, assaulted, or threatened sexually. Just one.

And that worst thing is, this show has a lot of potential to be fascinating. I've never seen a mainstream piece of work approaching a tricky subject like cultural appropriation in such a thought-provoking way. I also like the religious systems the aliens brought with them that are slowly being revealed in fits and starts, sometimes clearly menacing, but always completely alien and convincing. As I mentioned before, the cast is fantastic and the special effects work well with the story and feel organic. I don't want to end up hate!watching this show... but I don't see how much longer I can watch it for pleasure, either.
retsuko: snarky quote :) (capital letters)
I've been on Twitter for about a week now, and for the most part, it's a lot of fun. I especially like the ability I have now to keep connected with places/institutions that I like (the @SFMOMA feed in particular is really nice--not too many posts, but gorgeous photos of the works there, and thought-provoking questions) and cool people from present and past (getting back in touch with my old Smith roommate is really, really nice, as is seeing what my current LJ/DW/RL friends are up to.)

However, [personal profile] kyrielle was right that Twitter is like a party where if you stop talking, people tend to forget about you and move on. It's also a party where a lot of conversations are out of context and I have little idea what's going on in some of them. One of my favorite fanartists is currently in the midst of a multi-tweet rant about people hating on her work because of its visual style (or at least, I think this is what is going on, and she hasn't given any context as to what started the rant in the first place.) I've gotten the hang of conversing with other people (although read out of context, I'm sure those tweets make very little sense.)

The other thing that is continually challenging to shortening my thoughts to 140 characters. I'm used to a blogging format like, well, this one, and it's tricky being less than expansive. The whole thing reminds me of an exercise I did in elementary school where we supposed to imagine that we were composing a telegram* and had to limit our words from 150 down to 50, with the word STOP for periods and FULL STOP for the ending. The temptation to insert the word STOP into my tweets is there, but then I think, whoa, that is five characters that I need! So, no telegramming tweets for the moment.

* A TELEGRAM. A FRIGGIN' TELEGRAM! At the time, I remember that my Mom had a few old telegrams that someone had sent her Mom, and I was pretty impressed with those. This does make me wonder what R. will be astounded that I have an actual, physical copy of, and whether he'll be given an assignment to compose a Tweet and view said assignment as crazy/outdated.

We Have Wonder Woman!

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013 02:54 pm
retsuko: (cool yuuko)
It looks like Gisele from the Fast and the Furious series is Wonder Woman, provided she doesn't have conflicts later on. I, for one, am pretty pleased about this. Gal Gadot did well in the movies in both acting and stunts, and although she's not as muscular as I imagine WW would actually be, I think she'll have the presence to handle the role, even if it's just a 30-second appearance at the end (which, given the title of the movie as Batman vs. Superman, seems more likely than her getting any meaningful screen time.) But, over on io9, Charlie Jane Anders makes some compelling points about the problems of bringing WW to the big screen at all, pointing out that because of WW's somewhat convoluted and mythologically-based origin story, you either make a movie solely set in a Greek mythology-aware world (a la Percy Jackson) or you strip that part of the story away and just make her into "Sexy Female Badass Warrior Woman." The problem is that doing either of these things is highly unlikely to happen in a satisfying way in a movie. Right now, I suspect the script's going to go something like this:

Batman: I have an ideological problem with you, Superman.
Superman: And I have one with you, Batman.
(Combat ensues.)
(Cut to Justice League satellite. WW and the Flash are watching the monitors of earthly activity.)
Flash: Aw, man, not this again.
WW: Boys and their contests. Your male ways are foolish in the extreme.

Which, although entertaining, doesn't really do justice to either character, and just makes me long for the day that the WW movie is a definite possibility and not a sticking point amongst fans.

An Ending...?

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 09:32 pm
retsuko: (fierce!)
Yebisu and I watched "Mama", which is an excellent suspense film... except for the last fifteen minutes, at which point the plot overbalances, the story slips into slo-mo, and all the buildup from the previous story evaporated into no scary payoff and a very clumsy set-up for a sequel. (I say 'suspense' on purpose because while there were a few jump scares, the story was more atmospheric and creepy than genuinely terrifying.) In fact, the whole ending reminded me of an RPG where the players are suddenly dithering about what to do, and the storyteller is too kind to step in and make some action happen, or hopes that they'll find another solution to the problem altogether. Anyway, this wasn't the first horror movie to dash my hopes like this; Splice was another where the whole equation fell completely apart, to a ludicrous and embarrassing degree.

So, I started to wonder: what's the most satisfying way to end a horror movie? How would I have ended "Mama" in particular? There's nihilistic approach of "everyone dies," which sometimes makes sense, sometimes not, and I don't think would have worked well in this storyline. There's also the magical "everything's fixed!" method, but that would have been equally unsatisfying, given the set-up the film had presented. I started to think of great horror movie endings, and all I could come up with off the top of my head was the twist "gotcha!" at the end of the excellent Korean horror movie "A Tale of Two Sisters", which I don't want to give away here, but was so good that I thought about the movie for weeks afterwards. The ending of "Cabin in the Woods" is certainly... uh, definitive, for lack of a better word. Horror stories are some of the most difficult to end, simply because the audience's expectations are going to be so high, and the permutations of the conclusion to the story will radically change people's perception of the movie as a whole, whereas with other genres, I think there's a little more leeway.

But now I'm curious: what's your favorite horror movie ending? Least favorite? Spoilers are fine. I'm far more interested about what makes a horror plot successful than preserving my knowledge of a few movies/TV shows.
retsuko: watanuki freaking out with a pig in his hands (omgwtfbbq!)
In Books:

Richard Stark's Parker: The Hunter, by Darwin Cooke: The artwork in this is fantastic--I love the way that blue wash turns into noir black as the story unfolds and the overall visual style is Mad Men meets James Bond. But the gender issues in this story are disturbing enough to make this read two stars instead of three or four: women are disposable dolls and bodies, to be screwed and left for dead, or made into helpless pawns. This book doesn't do well by its male characters, either. By the end, I started to feel like this was masculinity via vein-popping caricature (I'm not kidding about the vein thing--it's actually a minor plot/descriptive point.) If you enjoy noir detective stories and are willing to ignore the strings of violent and cruel deaths, you'll probably enjoy this quite a lot; unfortunately, I couldn't bring myself to do it.

The Art Forger, by B. A. Shapiro: In all fairness, this book really isn't a bad piece of writing and shouldn't be lumped in with the one above. However, it does fit into the category of "can't believe I read this" due to its detailed and fascinating explanation of how a forger goes about recreating (convincingly) a famous/stolen piece of art, in this case, the Degas painting stolen from the Gardiner Museum in Boston. I liked the main character, although I couldn't believe how naive she was, given the past that she was coming from, which unfolded in fairly riveting detail throughout the story. Impressively, a lot of the minor characters are fleshed out in interesting and perceptive ways over the course of the book, instead of just remaining stereotypes. This was an easy and fun read, and I found myself very invested by the end. This is a book, though, that I wished I'd saved for the beach, because it would be perfect for a leisurely summer afternoon: engrossing, but not too challenging one way or another. I do recommend it for that!

At the Movies!:

The Great Gatsby: Uhm, wow. Yeah, I actually saw this movie, and I'm still wondering what the hell was up for most of it, or why the audience was expected to care about any of the characters and their whiney, pathetic, little lives. On the other hand: CLOTHES! SPECTACLE! METAPHOR! Seriously, the costuming and set dressing alone were so pretty and amazing that I was willing to forgive a lot of bullshit... but there was an awful lot of bullshit, and it went on and on, too. It got to the point where I started to go in little thought circles that went like: DiCaprio, if you say 'old sport' one more time, I'm gonna walk out of here and... ooo, wait, what's Carey Mulligan wearing now? SHINEY. And OMG DiCaprio's pink suit is so handsome that I just can't think about any of the stupid stuff right now... and look at Jordan's dress..., etc. etc. So, I suppose if you really love clothes and fashion, and crazy parties writ large on the big screen, this is the movie for you, but if you don't like to hear about Rich White People's Problems, perhaps seek out another movie.

Two side notes about this film: 1) I had been worried that the current trend for out-of-period music in period pieces would engulf this movie in annoying volume, but it was not that bad, and the soundtrack makes effective use of some lovely Gershwin music right when it's most needed to complete the spectacle, so that's a plus; and 2) I have no idea why would you ever need to see this movie in 3D. Aside from snow falling and the car chase, there is nothing that would be improved by special effects and pinch-y glasses. Save your $4, people!
retsuko: watanuki freaking out with a pig in his hands (omgwtfbbq!)
In the Love It category of Oscar nonsense:

~Ang Lee has just made right to the top of my "Super Awesome and All Around Must-See Filmmaker" List. Granted, he was on the there before, but last night, he muscled his way straight to the top. Further, he was one of the few filmmakers who thanked the author of the book their movie is based on! Seriously, what the what, Hollywood.

~FASHIONS: TEH SHINY! There were a lot of looks there were just plain pretty this year. I hope a lot of stylists and publicists were well compensated for their efforts! (My favorites were Jessica Chastain, Octavia Spencer, Olivia Munn, and Adele.)

~Adele and Shirley Bassey were amazing! And Christopher Plummer's speech about the Best Actress category was both funny and classy.

As for the Shove It category:

~OMG, WTF and BBQ. The first link is Buzzfeed, so perhaps avoid the comments, and the second is a much more reasoned critique from The New Yorker, but for sanity, possibly avoid the comments there, too. Anyway, I guess I should start out by saying that I am definitely not a Seth MacFarlance fan, so I was likely predisposed to be critical; that said, I'm still flabbergasted that some of the jokes were allowed to air. Seriously: domestic violence is funny how/why? Actresses taking risks for their roles is... worthy of making an entire song about how you can see their boobs? I feel like much of MacFarlane's material was an extended monologue based on a montage of The Soup's "Chicks, Man" segment.

~ This year's ceremony felt particularly long, and by the end of it, I was glad it was over.

So, next year... Amy and Tina, yes? Yes? Please?
retsuko: (tea room)
I've seen, read, and experienced a lot of wonderful pop culture this year, and I'm still boggling over just *how much* I've gotten to experience at all, given that my son turned 2 and spent much of his time unintentionally taking up mine. (99% of the time, that's great, but the other 1% is tough.) I've been lucky to get anything done at all! Fortunately, what I have been able to reward myself with is on the top-notch side of the equation.

Movies! The usual suspects, with a late entry of 'Argo', a tremendous, tight piece of filmmaking. )

Books! Are you my influencing machine who knows how to be a woman/space girl/consulting detective/mother, or just a cloud atlas? )

TV Shows! Escapism in the form of ensemble comedy and music. )

If I had to wear a t-shirt with a design that encapsulated my pop culture choices of 2012, it would definitely be a collection of awesome ladies all having tea at the same table. (Princess Bubblegum would be hosting and discussing futurism with Sonmi-451; Alison Bechdel and her mother would be facing off against some of Joanna Trollope's family characters; Hushpuppy would be comparing monsters with Zita the Spacegirl; and everyone would have a "Leslie Knope for President!" button.) Before I forget about it, here is a tremendously interesting video that showcases the roles that women had in Hollywood/mainstream film this year:

This leads me into my hopes and dreams for 2013 and pop culture: More here. )
retsuko: (girl & her dog)
Over on the Onion's A.V. Club, there's an interesting discussion around the question: what is the pop culture gift you'd like to share with everyone? There are some fabulous answers there (the always awesome Tasha Robinson lists "My Neighbor Totoro" as her pick, effectively affirming (and stealing) my original answer), but I thought I'd like to add my $.02:

1) Abel's Island, by William Steig: This lovely book is one of the best things I ever read as a child, because it taught me how to deal with solitude and not fear being by myself. I was a very serious child, and although I had friends, I often found myself with large blocks of time, with little to do. When I read this deceptively simple story, I learned quite a lot about what to do with those chunks of lonely time. Abel is a mouse from a well-to-do family who's never wanted for anything in his life. One day, due to a silly accident, he's swept across a river and stranded on an island, all alone. Days stretch into months, seasons change, and Abel is largely alone the whole time, plotting his escape and trying not to die. This isn't an action-packed book, though there are some very exciting and tense set pieces that punctuate the story. What stuck with me, though, as a young reader, were the passages that are introspective and quiet, where Abel contemplates his place in the universe, for better or for worse. He also takes the time to create art, and this act gives his life purpose and meaning. I always want to hand this book to the child who's a loner at classroom parties, who's not overtly unhappy, but doesn't exactly fit in all the time. "Here," I want to say, "It's OK to be alone sometimes. There's nothing wrong with you; just read this and you'll see."

2) Wings of Desire: I freely admit this is a hit-or-miss type of gift. It doesn't play well with the art-film-, subtitle-hating crowd, and many times, people are bored with its glacial pacing. It's not a fast or showy movie, but it's a beautiful one, and for a long time, it was the one piece of pop culture that made avowed agnostic me believe in any sort of higher power. The cinematography is simply amazing, and the characters in the story, while they appear to be cyphers at first, reveal themselves to be complex, determined people. Angels tend to get a cutesy rep in pop culture, and I'm pleased to say that the angels in this film are not cute. They're... well, they're supernatural, in the best sense of the word. I'm sad to see that this movie gets relegated to "art house" status, because I think it has a lot to teach any viewer about empathy and free will, and those are important themes for just about anyone on the planet, not only foreign film enthusiasts.

3) Bone, by Jeff Smith: This isn't a flawless piece of work, but what an ambitious and engaging story it is, and how much fun it is to read! I wish there were some more explanation of certain plot points, but in the end, it doesn't matter. I love that this is a comic that is, for the most part, truly all ages-friendly (really little ones may find the villain quite scary) but that doesn't sacrifice intelligent, thoughtful storytelling, and combines that with dynamic, gorgeous artwork. I also love that Smith has a strong sense of humor that serves to break up the tension, but also advances the narrative in surprising ways. I cannot want to read this one with my son, and it's a work that I hope more people will look at and appreciate for many years to come.
retsuko: (spoilers!)
In Books:

I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution, by Craig Marks: I gave up on this about 100 pages in. Here's what I said on Goodreads: "I don't think that I was the target audience for this work. After about a hundred pages, it was just a blur of people talking about cocaine-fueled orgies in between making videos, casual misogyny, and poor business decisions. I should say that I am highly impressed at the author's interviewing and editing skills; without careful thought and planning, this work would have been even more disorganized and confusing. And it is amazing to think that the cultural influence that MTV had came from such a tiny germ of an idea executed by people who had almost no idea what they were doing at the time. This said, it completely lost my interest in the long list of interviewees and overall tone of the book, which was self-congratulatory and completely unaware of the implications of its content." I still stand by that. I was hoping my impression would have changed with a few weeks' time, but I'm still dissatisfied.

Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me, by Ellen Forney: I'm already looking forward to reading this again. It's a very honest, open look at Forney's grappling with bipolar disorder and how she overcomes it (and what this process entails.) I've been a fan of hers for a while, and I'm amazed after reading this that she was able to create the excellent, insightful comics that she does/did, given what she was going through at the time.

How to Be a Woman, by Catie Moran: An excellent, funny piece of writing, with an honest, wry tone. Essential reading for any card-carrying, 3rd wave feminist. Hell, it's essential reading for just about anyone!

Rosemary and Rue, by Seanan McGuire: I did enjoy this book, but I cannot remember reading anything like it, where I was so worried that the main character would die (despite the fact that I know she's the protagonist through the whole series.) She had so little to go on, and the forces she was up against had so much. Honestly, I kept wanting to hug her and tell her it would be all right, even as I suspected that it wouldn't. McGuire has a great eye for character and setting, and her descriptions of San Francisco make it a living backdrop, not just a location for the story to have short scenes in. I'm eager to read the next book in the series, but after a little while, when I've had some time to let my worry-urge rest.

On DVD/Netflix:

The Five-Year Engagement: Sometimes when you watch a movie, there's ONE SCENE that is so much better than anything else that the rest of the film just wastes away in comparison. The Five-Year Engagement was one of those movies, where there's a terrifically funny scene about three-quarters of the way through between Emily Blunt and Allison Brie. It was so good, in fact, that I wished the film had just been those two funny ladies, being their awesome, hilarious selves. The rest of the story has some OK bits, but nothing measures up to that particular sequence.

The Campaign: What a determinedly odd movie. Parts of it were funny, but other parts of it were so over the top, I don't know what to think about it.

Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, Season 2: Perhaps I've been reading Escher Girls a little too much, but the women's character designs in this are really starting to bug me. It's one thing to have to simplify a costume or a body shape for the sake of easy animation, but when all the female characters have the same exact body proportions, it really starts to get dull, visually speaking. (And, for the record, these measurements appear to be 38-18-42.) The other annoying thing is the rebranding of the show to write out the token regular female character (Wasp) and token regular person of color (Black Panther) in favor of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and the Hulk. Wasp and Black Panther could easily hold my attention as a super-team all by themselves, and their absence in the recent storylines is distressing.
retsuko: (yay doctor!)
It seems that in every time-travel related movie/tv show/short story/etc. these days, there's a part where the characters complain about how time travel is a fundamentally headache inducing plot device. Invariably, these discussions are cut short, either by literal violence or by a sort of conversational misdirect, like silly words ("wibbley wobbley timey wimey... stuff") or a put down from one of the speakers that amounts to a bit of linguistic violence ("stop asking questions, stupid!"). I'm not sure what these conversations ultimately do for the script itself, other than add little moments of levity between action sequences, or provide an opportunity for the writers to appear metaphysical. Most of the time, I do love these moments because watching the characters do the mental gymnastics required to facilitate the plot without giving the viewer/reader a headache is funny.

First up on the headachy time travel front is "Looper", which is the movie that "Inception" wanted to be--exciting and intelligent, with great acting and a very tightly constructed script. Most of the time in movies today, I think to myself that the writers could have cut twenty minutes out of middle and nothing would be missed; in the case of "Looper", those middle twenty minutes were important and well-used. Spoilers ahead, but I'll try to keep the ending out of them. )

In a semi-related genre, spoilers have been unavoidable for the mid-season finale of "Doctor Who". I made it there fairly unscathed, but in the interests of not ruining it for others: Spoilers for everything, especially the ending. )

Side note, from the trailers: The Lioness Mother, who defends her child against almost all evil (even from BEYOND THE GRAVE), appeared in several trailers. There was the monster!Mother in Guillermo del Toro's "Mama", who appears to be Sadako's cousin, given her fondness for grotesquely bent limbs and stringy hair; contrasted with Judi Dench's mastermind!Mother/M in "Skyfall", where the strong intimation is that Mother loves you enough to kill you dead for plot purposes. I'm not sure what this heralds about feelings towards mothers right now, but it's a slightly nicer trend than zombies, so I guess I can get behind it.
retsuko: finn & jake's fist bump of awesome (fist bump!)
Recently, I've had the good fortune to see two movies that received little or no press when they were released, but turned out to be (mostly) very well done, interesting pieces of work. Although one of them has what I consider to be a major narrative flaw, both are well worth checking out.

First up, there's Chronicle, a found-footage empowered teenagers story. Three teenaged boys in Washington state are exposed to *something* (it's not clear what, although it looks extraterrestrial in the few brief shots we see it for) that gives them super powers like telekinesis, flight, and natural body armor. Of course, all three of them initially squander these powers on stupid things until they begin to realize the consequences of their actions, and then the temptation of power proves too great for the group's saddest link. Throughout this movie, I kept thinking of Lev Grossman's The Magicians, because of the links between the main characters and outcome of both narratives. This is probably as close to a live-action Magicians (minus the magical land of Fillory) as we're ever going to get, and perhaps that's for the best. I wouldn't want to visit this reality too often. I did appreciate the settings and the casting, which was excellent. Everyone looked like people I'd gone to high school with, and the writing, although a little sluggish towards the end, was appropriately profanity-strewn. There aren't any big name actors in this film, but that's OK; the three main characters are very well played and the story is excellent without having some famous person's reputation overshadowing it.

On the flip side, there's Monsters, which is the weaker of the two movies here. The ending/beginning is a confusing, muddled mess, and the symbolism through the narrative is incredibly heavy-handed (so much so that I thought the rickety shacks and structures in the story would collapse under the weight of THEIR MEANING alone.) But that doesn't mean the rest of the movie isn't good, and this film was a really nice example of character development and compelling scene setting. In the not-too-distance future, aliens have landed in the forests of Mexico, half of which is now an "infected zone" that the U.S. and Mexican governments can barely contain. The hero and heroine are trying to make their ways home, and as they travel together, they start to fall in love against an increasingly alien, menacing backdrop. What I really liked about this movie was how convincingly inhuman the aliens were, and just how many empty spaces and landscapes the locations scouts were able to provide. The most eerie sequence in the whole story comes somewhere near the end and involves a ghost town in Galveston, Texas, and it's just... spectacularly creepy. People usually talk about movies that have "edge of your seat action", but this was "edge of your seat exploration." The whole movie was like this, for the most part, interrupted only by brief bits and pieces of dialogue and character development, and it was quite good--not in your face action, all the time, but a general impression of real tension and drama in the face of dangerous and strange obstacles. As I mentioned before, the beginning and ending are a bit odd, and it's there that things fall apart. Everything else was terrific.

In any case, I wish that movies like these (and the underrated Sleep Dealer, another excellent but little seen sci-fi film) would get more press. I would prefer to see more like these get made and appreciated!
retsuko: (spoilers!)
In some ways, I'm really glad it's over... and in others, I'm not.

In the "Not Happy" category, I have the issue that there are problems that have to be dealt with NOW and that I put off thinking about completely for four days. Most of these are long-term issues that are jostling for short-term attention, and as usual, sorting through them takes patience and time, which are entities that I don't have in large supply at the moment. (As Shanghai Vixen quoted to me this morning, "Temporary battles will take up half your life.") There's also a huge letdown now that comes with having to realign myself to the reality that I'm no longer in a space where people will necessarily "get" my nerdy t-shirt or quotation. There's also a political re-calibration that will need to take place, too, when it comes to disclosing how much of a fan I am or not, depending on the conversation or the people involved. (Of course, disclosing what I'm a fan of at the Con was a separate decision-making process in and of itself!)

On the plus side, of course, in real life, there aren't any crazy lines for fun things. My feet are slowly recovering, hindered only by a blister in a weird and uncomfortable spot between my toes. We probably spent a little more money than we should have, although as usual, we didn't go anywhere near as crazy as we could have. (Yebisu's interest in the collectible sculptures only seems to extend to looking at them and fantasizing about the Manly Den of Manliness that he will have someday.)

This year, I was especially proud that we didn't come out of the whole thing feeling as exhausted as we have in years past. In fact, getting up early wasn't a problem because we are so used to doing it now, at R.'s insistence. But we were really judicious about leaving when we felt tired, and not stretching things out past the proverbial point of no return. We've also gotten much savvier at negotiating the Exhibit Hall floor and judging what will be popular enough to avoid, so mega kudos to us!

Further chat about conversations overheard, fundies, goddamn zombies, and interacting with small children. )

In short form:

Best Free Stuff: The Dalek hat, hands down. Even though wearing it was a little tricky (it didn't balance quite right and swayed on my head quite a bit, like a posture test), I got a lot of compliments and envious looks from other Con goers. How I ended up getting it was a complete fluke, since I think [profile] figgy_newton unintentionally cut through a line, but wound up with one anyway. The poor BBC America staffer looked a bit shellshocked/stressed when he handed me two.

Worst Free Stuff: The stale box of supposedly "fresh!" popcorn I got from a Fandango snack wagon outside the Convention Center.

Most Earnest Free Stuff: On Sunday morning, while Yebisu and I were waiting for the Adventure Time exhibit to open up, a group of women came along, handing out sequined tiaras to promote a children's book along the lines of Harry Potter. I could tell that unlike other swag, these things were hand-made, and I suspect that this was the author's family, trying to promote his work. I wore it on the front of my Vader baseball cap and got several compliments on it.

Pop Culture Entity We're All Going to Be Sick of This Time Next Year: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot. There was so much promotional material for this, and the whole thing reeked of desperation--even the freebie comic I got featured the toys, not actual drawings, as if the studio thought, "Holy crap, we have to promote this! Someone, do something that will help us sell stuff!" The clips from the cartoon feature shoddy animation without any subtext or soul. Angels and ministers of grace, defend us.

Costuming Trends: Steampunk Everything. I saw steampunk Batman and Poison Ivy, general steampunk costumery, and even a steampunk crow sitting on a woman's shoulder. There were a ton of Avengers (of course) and lots of Thor/Loki, in male and female form. For younger boys, there were a lot of Finn's as well as the de rigeur Batmen/Supermen/Spidermen. For girls, there were more than a few My Little Ponies, Fionna's (YAY!), and Disney princesses.

2013... here we come?!? I'd be happy to go again. I just have no idea what form that's going to take, but I definitely hope we can get there again.
retsuko: martha jones from 'doctor who', in black and white (martha)
Prompted by this excellent discussion over at the Onion A.V. Club, I got to thinking about the pop culture storytelling conventions that really, really drive me crazy:

1) The Hollywood shorthand for "misanthropic genius on the brink of a breakthrough" is the scene where said character writes down everything he (because these characters are 99% male) know regarding the problem on a chalkboard/whiteboard/wall/vertical surface and stares at it until the Moment of Revelation occurs. (Bonus points if sidekick!character tries to help out and receives only snark and mockery.) This scene always bugs me because it's lazy storytelling. On one hand, I understand the issue that writers have: showing someone's thought process is difficult, and if we go with the real world, solving-aloud method, the story slams on its brakes. But I would challenge writers to find another way of showing internal process, one that doesn't involve a cliched, been-there, done-that image. "Sherlock" got beyond this rather nicely in Baskerville Hound episode, where we see a literal animation of Holmes' thoughts and mental connections, and that was a nice change. I'd like to see a Moment of Revelation occur, though, in a silly, everyday life situation as it often does: why can't we see characters eating cornflakes or doing laundry when the revelation comes along? Mundane, repetitive tasks often afford a perfect space for independent thought, and I'm willing to bet these sorts of activities would help make the character more accessible.

2) Killing any characters to motivate the main character to do something he/she doesn't want to. Much has been written on the subject of female characters' deaths in service to this ridiculous plot trope, but I think killing anyone off merely to provide drama is a lazy storytelling motif. It's one thing to have a character motivated by vengeance, but vengeance is a complicated theme, and it's one with long-term implications. Sure, Main Character A will avenge the death of Beloved Character B by murdering Villain C, and then the story's over; but what about years down the line when A realizes that he/she betrayed B's fundamental beliefs and therefore dishonored B's memory and wishes? Character death does happen, but I think it needs to be made clear that the whoever gets killed isn't just being made into a plot device to drive the story forward.

3) The ugliest or most beautiful person in the pool of suspects turns out to be the murderer! Because average-looking people never commit crimes. ;)
retsuko: antique books (books)
In Books:

The Other Family & The Best of Friends, by Joanna Trollope: Trollope continues to impress me with her skill at handling multiple characters and their points of view, as well as her nonjudgmental authorial tone (although some her characters happily judge away, for better or for worse.) These books are master classes in dialogue and quick, accessible description. I'm eager to read more of her work.

In Graphic Novels:

The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media, words by Brooke Gladstone and pictures by Josh Neufeld: Gladstone credits Scott McCloud's phenomenonal Understanding Comics as a source of inspiration, and it's an apt comparison. What McCloud sought to do for comics and graphic novels, Gladstone seeks to do for media and the way we've come to consume it, and she succeeds with flying colors. This is a thought-provoking, wise piece of work that challenges any reader to reconsider what is truthful in popular media, especially news coverage. In particular, her chapter on war coverage is revealing and equal parts depressing, historical, and inspiring: depressing for the simple truth that the media can easily create a conflict where there is none or shape the events of a conflict to fit any truth the public sees fit; historical in that she traces the history of war coverage journalism in the U.S. in an exhaustive but never dull fashion; and inspiring in that she challenges each reader to more closely examine what is she/he is seeing and NOT seeing. Gladstone is never overly preachy or self-righteous, and her self-deprecating humor is a nice touch at several especially poignant and difficult sections of text. I want to use this book in every class I teach from now on! Highly, highly recommended!

In Manga:

Uglies: Shay's Story, Words by Scott Westerfeld and Devin Grayson, pictures by Steven Cummings: This was rather disappointing, especially because while I was reading the original trilogy, I thought to myself, if there ever was a series begging to be made into a manga, it's this one!. The way that Westerfeld described the Pretties (augmented human characters) made me think of manga, with its unsettling ability to create characters who seem too doll-like, too perfect to be real. The Pretties in this manga don't look that much different from the regular, un-modified human characters, and they certainly don't appear to be so beautiful and perfect that Uglies instantly feel like obeying them. In fact, most of the so-called Uglies looked like already perfect manga characters: there were no real variations in body shape or skin tone other than freckles and high cheekbones that aren't really all that difficult for any competent illustrator to do. Even worse, the Specials didn't look all that scary--again, the idea I came away from the original books with was that these were people who'd been augmented to look more feral, more dangerous, that their beauty was poisonous. Instead, they just looked like big, buff guys in battle armor. Only Dr. Cable came close to looking the way I'd pictured her, but her appearance was too little, too late. It didn't help that the story in this installment is weak teenage romance and made Shay into a whiney, unsympathetic character. Personally, if someone was illustrating my work, I'd be telling a different story, one that was far more world-building-based and less on the soap opera side. This volume felt like a wasted opportunity.

A side note: I have just started Are You My Mother?, Alison Bechdel's latest work, and while it looks amazing, it is DENSE. I plan to read it carefully, and probably won't be able to post about it right away. Still, based on the first chapter alone, I can safely say this is a strong, honest piece of work.
retsuko: (Default)
I remember the very first video store I ever went to. It was Captain Video!* and it occupied the space next to CVS in a local mall that Peet's Coffee & Tea owns now. It was a pretty small place, with slanted shelves lined with empty video cases and little labels stuck on them that read "Betamax only" or "VHS only." My parents let my sister and I choose one movie for ourselves ("The Last Unicorn") while they argued back and forth over which one to rent for themselves (they ended up choosing "The Lion in Winter".) It never really occurred to me at the time, but choosing a movie and deciding when to watch it was something of a revolution for my family and many others. I only knew as the credits rolled and Mia Farrow started her awful, reedy singing that I was watching a movie at home because my sister and I felt like it, and it was pretty great.

The video store was a semi-permanent fixture of my childhood and adolescence from then on, although in very measured quantity, ever a great frustration to me. Captain Video! disappeared rather quickly (as did Betamax), but a Blockbuster showed up fairly quickly, and there was always a kind friend who had the latest thing and invited me over to watch it. I should say here that my parents are most decidedly NOT leave-the-tv-on-in-the-background people. Their relationship with video rentals was actively characterized by a wary antagonism lest videos eat up time marked out for other, more wholesome activities, and this idea persisted through my entire childhood. One summer on a balmy Cape Cod afternoon, for example, we were at the video store when another family with children about my age came in, their arms laden with tapes. My mother regarded them with active disgust and when they'd left, she said, "I bet they spent all weekend watching those and doing nothing else. I bet they didn't even talk to each other." I didn't reply. I just wished I could rent as many videos as I wanted to.

What I didn't realize was that video rental was a double edged sword. When I got into high school and friends started having driver's licenses and cars, video rentals were at the top of our lists of Fun Things To Do. After all, we could all scrounge up the $3 between us, and there was always the possibility of renting something our parents might disapprove of, an illicit but largely empty thrill. But what we didn't realize was that trips to the video store would tear friendships apart, or waste hours of valuable leisure time. I had friends with definite preferences and agendas, and nowhere was this more on display than in the video store.** There was an evening in high school where three of my friends and I spent an hour and a half at the La Jolla Blockbuster, arguing over what to watch. I can't remember what we picked in the end, or even watching it afterwards. All I remember was a looming sense of amazement that my friends were that stubborn and unwilling to compromise with one another. Renting videos with boyfriends was also a test: would he be pushy and rude, insisting on Die Hard or a horror movie that I had no interest in, or would he be polite and choose something I wanted to see, like an anime***? It was like a date at the movies, but with the possibility for judgment even greater because of the sheer amount of choice in front of us.

But for all of its shortcomings, I can't bring myself to regret all my time at the video store. I love Netflix streaming and DVD-by-mail, but nothing can compare with seeing the exact video/DVD you want and taking it immediately, the child-like, slightly narcissistic thrill of "I will watch this now because I chose it!". And like any business, getting to know the people who worked at our local Blockbuster store, was a treat, too. (Our favorite manager used to bring his dog in to work, an adorable little mutt who didn't mind me picking him up at all.) Even though the video store was an inherently commercial enterprise, it was still a part of our neighborhood. My son will grow up not knowing what this was like, and he will, no doubt, roll his eyes at me when I start to tell him. It's just weird to think that something that was such an integral part of the cultural landscape has almost vanished completely.

* According to my Mom, the owner of the shop actually had a Captain Video costume, but when pressed for details, she always claims not to remember. For the life of me, I can't remember one way or another.

** I'm sure it wasn't just me and my friends; I often think that video store employees must have overheard some epics endings to relationships brewing.

*** Blockbuster was also the avenue to some of my very first anime, although back then the notoriously violent and X-rated Urutsukudoji: Legend of the Overfiend was often shelved next to Unico: The Little Unicorn. I used to complain about the inappropriateness of this to the video store employees, with varying degrees of success.
retsuko: (spoilers!)
In one of my more first world problems lately, I've found myself in a somewhat awkward position in regards to several of the TV shows I follow: I only like one of the characters on it, and this person isn't the main character. So time spent watching these shows is an exercise in patience, a patience which I don't have much of.

In the case of The Office (the U.S. version), I suspect it's largely due to the slow death of the show as a whole. But it still saddens me to think I find myself annoyed by each and every character, except one. This is an ensemble show, with a talented cast; you would think the writers would have at least one other likable character. Especially since Daryl (the character I like) is one of the few left with an open-ended story line: will he get his act together and ask out the cute woman from the warehouse? Will he decide that he wants to move up in the company? Will he come to his senses and realize he's one of the few smart, down-to-earth people in the office and would be much better served in another job somewhere else? Whatever happens, it's going to make for great comedy and Craig Robinson is such a talented, fun actor that I'm happy to watch. The problem is, when is it his turn? The writers seem fixated on other, lesser concerns, and most of them haven't paid off narratively this season at all. (Jim has gone from being a reasonably funny, somewhat smug Everyman to a sad, more smug EveryJerk, and the plotline with Erin and Andy just hangs on the season like an albatross.) I can only hope that either some other characters become likable again, or that the writers realize that focusing on different characters would make for better episodes.

In the case of Dexter, though, this annoyance is more due to my loss of patience with the serial killer drama genre as a whole. I'm just catching up with Season 5 on Netflix, and it's very, very patchy. On one hand, we have Debra at her awesome, funniest, most vulnerable best. Watching her progression through the series has been a profound pleasure, and seeing her this season makes me wish there was just a show about her, without all the serial killer drama. Because the serial killer drama in Season 5 is... awkward at best, and downright disgusting at worst. Dexter still is a largely sympathetic personality, but his actions this season don't fit his character at all, and the wild consequences of them have been profoundly strange. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop--there are too many loose ends for the season to end well, for any of the characters. Of course, I don't expect that there's going to be a tidy happy ending all around, but in this case, my suspicions of what's going to happen are keeping me from enjoying the season as a whole. It's like watching someone prepare to do some prank or trick that's going to fail spectacularly, and the person just won't listen to common sense. ("It's gonna be great!" "No, not exactly, are you sure--" "No, seriously, it's gonna rock! Watch this--AUGH!") This used to be the one serial killer/police procedural I could reliably watch without feeling this way; now it's moving into a darker, less entertaining territory. If only the writers could take their expertise with Debra and apply it to the series as a whole. I don't want to be watching for just one character, because that's not going to bring much fulfillment.
retsuko: (Time Lady)
As usual, the Onion A.V.'s Q&A discussion brings a wonderful topic up for consideration: If you had one wish, what would you change about pop culture? There are some excellent answers, mostly having to do with a pop culture utopia where people of all genders, races, and sexual orientations are better represented across the board, studios don't run things into the ground because of monetary/stupid reasons, and society as a whole tries to appreciate art better. I'd like to bend the rules and add a few more wishes of my own:

1) Comic books/graphic novels/manga/manwha/webcomics are taken more seriously by the mainstream publishing houses. Rather than being simple, cheaply printed afterthoughts, or supposedly dying industries (io9's recent article about the state of the manga publishing world made me so sad, coupled with Matt Thorn's comments about how poorly translators are paid these days), couldn't publishers embrace comics and graphic novels in any form for what they are: a diverse group of books with the power to reach untold numbers of new readers? Even from a base profit standpoint, luring new readers in means more people buying books and discussing them, which can only be a good thing, and it leads to my next wish:

2) Everyone, please stop talking about the demise of the traditional book in favor of the ebook format. I can understand that newspapers and magazines need to evolve to new print mediums; they're not meant to be long-lasting, time-withstanding physical items that you own forever. Books, on the other hand, as I am reminded every time we move, are things you keep around. And even though ebooks are wonderful for plane rides and waiting in lines, they don't feel substantial in the same way that books do. When I reread Sherlock Holmes on my Kindle, I don't have the same sense of satisfaction that I get when I page through the handed down, hardcover edition of the same text I own, with my great-uncle's notes scrawled here and there. Obviously, every cheap mass-market paperback doesn't have the residual meaning my Sherlock Holmes does, but it's exciting to put down a large, thick book and say, "I read that." Ebooks... you delete from your Nook or Kindle? I don't know what you do with them when you're done. I don't think, in the long run, that ebooks will completely win. People may own fewer real books, but they're never going to go away all together because the digital experience simply is not the same.

3) This may just be my city, but I am sad to see the demise of second-run movie houses with cheap tickets. Since I don't have the time these days to see everything right when it comes out, I would really, really like the option to go later on and still see a movie on the big screen. I would be much more willing to buy popcorn at a theater where the tickets weren't horrifically expensive, too.

4) Speaking of movie theaters, let's do away with all pre-show "entertainment" in favor of say... nothing. Or cartoons. Anything but commercials! I get that nonsense on the small screen; I don't want it on the large one.

5) Finally, can we please strike the phrase "beyond imagination" from all movie trailers? By definition, nothing is beyond imagination!
retsuko: (stars)
I was perusing some of the "Best Of" lists of movies and books this year in various sources (LA Times, NY Times, The Onion's A.V. Club), and realized that in most cases, I had only heard about half of the works on all the lists. This has never, ever happened before. In the case of books, I feel slightly better about it; books don't get the same pop culture treatment that movies do (the movie section of the newspaper is like the star high school quarterback, while the book review has been trimmed and pared down to chess club level status at this point). But in the case of the movies... gah. This is really how having a child has changed our lives. It's not an entirely bad thing, of course: we don't spend as much on movie tickets as we used to, and when we do see a movie, we're very, very picky about it. I'm also finding that most movies really don't lose much between video format and the big screen. But going to movies just because we felt like it was something that both [ profile] yebisu9 and I enjoyed a lot, and I hate to think that is not only no longer an option, but our general pop culture knowledge has declined because of it. The pay-off of this exchange, raising a child, is wonderful and awesome, and well worth losing movies. It's just a strange revelation for me, a reminder of how much things have changed.

In any case, the movies that I get a chance to see and enjoy fall mostly into the comedy category (Bridesmaids, the adult, cringe-worthy hilarity, and The Muppets, sweet and musical and funny), action-drama (Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows, Part 2, a tremendously satisfying conclusion), and straight-up drama (True Grit and The Descendants). We've pretty much stopped going to documentaries (*weeps*), although this has more to do with the timing of the art house movie theaters near us, rather than issues with the genre. I'm still hoping to get to see Tintin, but that's not going to happen before 2012.

Books are much the same story--read in a very slapdash fashion here and there. I've really enjoyed continuations of my favorite series, like the new Percy Jackson series, or the latest Thursday Next installment, which rewarded me for all my faith in the series by being one of the funniest and most inventive adventures yet. I also very much enjoyed more serious works, like The Wilder Life (the life story and legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her much beloved Little House books) and The Lace Reader (see previous entry.) Again, my nonfiction reading has suffered. Years ago, I vowed to myself to always have a nonfiction title going at the same time as a fiction one, and technically, I *have* one (Tesla: Man Out of Time), but I'm not rushing to read it as much as I should be. (Tesla's life story is fascinating, but the electrical engineering talk that takes up much of chapters leaves me confused and rather bored.) This will probably be the subject of a pop culture resolution for next year (see below).

Music-wise, my Top 25 most played are pretty similar to previous years--Susumu Hirasawa (the Paprika OST is STILL awesome!), Neko Case, Barenaked Ladies, etc. etc. Newer entries include The New Pornographers, Neko Case's new album, Middle Cyclone, which is absolutely fantastic, and Flight of the Conchords. (My love for adorable pop music parody knows no bounds.) If I had to sum up 2011's musical trend in one genre, though, it would be kick-ass lady folk-rock/rocky-folk, like Florence + The Machine, Aimee Mann, my perennial favorite Dar Williams, and the afore mentioned Neko Case.

2011 was also the year of "Probably Far More TV Than Was Good For Me." On the other hand, even though I watched a lot of TV, it wasn't just junk that I passively consumed. I discovered several new fandoms (Adventure Time, Warehouse 13, Sanctuary) and am currently having the pleasure of watching several great American novels (most notably Mad Men) set to TV. There was a fair amount of TV that was pre-screened for our son, but as long as he enjoys good quality programs like Shaun the Sheep and Sesame Street, I think the good news is that I won't go crazy. (I also fully expect him to adore something I hate, but I will burn that bridge when I get there.)

There have also been quite a few manga volumes and comics littering up 2011. Of all of these, the two I'm most looking forward to are the next volume of Wandering Son, a beautifully drawn and translated story about transgender teens by a mangaka who obviously loves her characters and the next issue of The Unwritten, a story which gets more and more interesting with each passing and not nearly frequent enough chapter.

Finally, my pop culture resolutions for 2012! )

Happy 2012 to everyone who's been reading!

Movie Walk Out!

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011 08:49 am
retsuko: (eels in the photobooth)
There's an interesting essay over on The Onion's A.V. Club page about whether you should be able to ask for a refund from a theater if you don't like the movie. I've never, ever walked out of a movie, although I have received refunds and free tickets from a theater when there were projector problems (in the case of one of the "The Mummy" films, the movie was so bad anyway that the projector breaking down didn't really bother me; in the case of "Doubt", I did notice a strange shadow on the screen throughout the whole film, and was pleased that the manager of the theater was waiting at the exit, freebie tickets in hand and apology at the ready.)

There have certainly been movies that I wanted to walk out of, but didn't do so because I was with someone else. For example, "Event Horizon" was awful and gross, but I was with a friend who didn't seem bothered by the content, so I just waited for it to be over. (After the movie, a guy in front of us was going on and on about how great it had been, and my friend and I walked to our car, silent. After a long while, she said, "I wish I could have seen the movie he saw, because it sounded really cool.") "Mortal Combat 2" was so laughably terrible that I couldn't take seriously at all; it also helped that the theater was filled with drunken frat boys who kept screaming "MORTAL COMBAAAAATTTT!!!" at every conceivable opportunity. The film itself was horrifically stupid, but the viewing atmosphere was fabulous. And the part of me that doesn't like hyper-violence wishes I had walked out of "Kill Bill, Part 1", because, well, I just can't un-see things.

But, in general, I feel like asking for a refund from the theater itself is counter-productive. The staff didn't make the film; they're just showing it to you. You're paying for the opportunity to sit in the theater and watch a movie, not comment on its content. If you want to vote with your dollars, shouldn't you have already done so before walking into a movie? There are plenty of reviews out there that will tell you if the film is your cup of tea, and even though I think the ratings system is deeply flawed, at least it gives you some indication of what you're about to see. But perhaps I am overthinking it. I know that some people just walk into a movie, judging it by its poster and crossing their fingers. Do they get a refund if they don't like the content?

[Poll #1761434]

I try to come up with a straight answer to this and keep going around in circles. Say there was a scene in the movie that you were utterly unprepared for, even after doing research and reading reviews; would that warrant a refund demand? And how soon is said refund demand appropriate--10 minutes into the movie? 20? The end? There's a detail of the social contract here that I'm definitely confused about.

In all honesty, there are other matters that I feel far more inclined to complain about at the theater, most notably the exceedingly overpriced popcorn and candy. And, then, of course, there are the movies that I WISH I could have walked out of, because they were unpleasant ("American Beauty"--how I despise that film) or boring ("Meet Joe Black" = UGH). Anyway, given how rarely I get to theaters now, I hope never to walk out of a movie and plan to do my review-reading homework as diligently as possible.

May 2016

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